One phenomenon I’ve been watching with interest is the growth of video as means of mass/individual communication. I’ve commented frequently on how effectively the Coast Guard uses video as part of their public affairs operation and other companies, such as Starbucks and JetBlue have used video effectively as key part of a crisis management response.
My thoughts on this this morning were further spurred by watching yet another political video. I won’t provide a link to it because that would make this blog more political than I want. It showed a mock ad on a Fox news program promoting a drug that will help you get over your symptoms of ambivalence over one prominent candidate.
The point is not the particular ad–it is video and its increasingly pervasive, creative, powerful and ubiquitous use in today’s communication. Video production has become democratized. New easy to use video capture, editing and publishing tools are emerging rapidly. (To prove this point, I just made a quick video on my Mac laptop, uploaded it and here is the link to the Quicktime version.)Video conferencing via web is being built into all laptops and is part of the increasingly popular meeting applications. YouTube and other video publishing sites are spurring on the use of video with surprising rapidity.
Politics once again provides leadership in adapting to and innovating new means of communication. Those in business or organizational communication ought to be paying close attention to what is happening in these campaigns. Because what candidates face today particularly related to those who hate them or oppose them, is what you will face tomorrow from your activists and opponents. Business competition may look like this. Activist action will undoubtedly look like this as it increasingly does today. And just plain old every day communication between boss and employees, between CEO and the leadership team, between a company and its customers and an organization and its stakeholders will look like this.
If you aren’t ready for video, look out. It is ready for you.
I’ve stated frequently in presentations that the blogging world is changing how public information is dealt with. There is an ethos around blogging that is in direct conflict with how communication has been traditionally managed by corporations–and politicians. That conflict is being highlighted right now in the John Edwards campaign.
The Edwards campaign had a blogger, Amanda Marcotte, who wrote some relatively outrageous things–not outrageous in the blog world which thrives on the colorful opinion, but outrageous if viewed as an authorized expression of the candidate’s perspective and style. And that is, of course, the rub. Does a paid blogger represent the candidate in all that is said and the style with which it is said?
Those wishing to make an issue of this put pressure on Edwards to fire Marcotte. He distanced himself from the content, but declined to fire her because of freedom of expression. So, here is the other rub: to fire a blogger because of content is to violate the freedom and personality ethos of the blogosphere. The blog world would go nuts. And yet clearly from his comments, Edwards was aware of the potential damage that Marcotte could do to him. Yet, if she toned down her approach, everyone would be watching to see if he put the clamps on. A no win situation.
In this article, the situation is resolved. Marcotte continued to post in ways that were offensive to some (reassuring to others I am sure that Edwards was following through on his pledge of freedom). But Marcotte resigned, (or “resigned”) when the pressure on Edwards continued unabated.
The dilemmas are clear–not just for this season’s crop of political candidates, but also for companies and organizations needing to deal with the blog world. It is an issue in my own company–what fits the blog ethos and what doesn’t? What is OK in the wild west world of bloggers who despite their cries of freedom have an increasingly narrow view of what is socially acceptable to them and what is not. The herd mentality seems to have taken over to some degree and pity the poor soul who violates the increasingly clear ethos.
Do Republicans lead in techelectioneering?
Here’s an interesting article on how the campaigns compare in preparation for what some are calling Googlelection.
And another “Just an Online Minute” post on the bungling of candidates in the blog world.
John Edwards is out of the starting blogs and running. And according to this article from PRSA, it looks like his approach to working with bloggers and videos (YouTube style) shows that he gets it (part of the way anyway, excepting his booboo about bloggers).
I’m committed to staying out of politics here (I did my own run for political office–thank God unsuccessfully) but the point is that the modes, channels, style of public communication is changing. But most who make a living in this business are struggling mightily to keep up with these changes. Edwards’ campaign gives a clear indication of the role of blogging, working with bloggers, web 2.0 style, and most of all use of video–all stuff the topic of many posts here.